Why Believers Face Storms
I was sitting at my desk one afternoon and suddenly the Holy Spirit bubbled a word up within me regarding the purpose and plan for the storms in our lives. Real storms are shown throughout the Old and New Testaments as both opposition from the enemy, and planned and purposed by God. The Lord can use storms to further His plans in our lives, and there is much fruit that comes from the storms of life. Not only that, but He often turns bad storms around for the good and benefit for us and others. The devil also uses storms. There are instances in Matthew, Mark, and Luke where a storm was produced suddenly because the devil realized what Jesus was doing. The devil began to fear the movement of the Lord, and tried to prevent it from happening. Something interesting I want to note: the devil is not all-knowing. He only knows what God is about to do when the Lord makes His next move known. Satan can't foresee what God will do next, so he only reacts and creates chaos when he sees what the Lord's next move is. So take heart! We serve a God who knows all things! And our enemy is unaware of the future. It can be difficult to recognize during the storm whether the opposition came from the enemy, or because of the correction and teaching of the Lord. However, the closer we draw to Jesus, the more easily we can see where the tempests are coming from and to what purpose they provide in our lives. When Satan Sends Storms "Now it happened, on a certain day, that He got into a boat with His disciples. And He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side of the lake.” And they launched out. But as they sailed He fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm. But He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, “Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!” Luke 8:22-25 Jesus had a plan before the disciples even set out in a boat to cross the lake. Jesus was after the deliverance, healing and restoration of the demon-possessed man (Matthew's gospel declares that there were two demon-possessed men). It wasn't until they had gotten in the boat and were headed toward their destination that "suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat." (Matthew 8:24) Satan had no idea what Jesus' next move was until He started moving. It was then that the devil tried to prevent Jesus from delivering a man from his demons. It's only when the Lord begins to move in a certain area of your life that suddenly the devil will bring storms to prevent you from getting to the other side. Satan can see what was promised to you when the promise is released from heaven. He will send storms at you to try and intercept your promise. In the case of the demon-possessed man, we don't know what this man was praying or if he even was. All we know is that Jesus must have heard his cries and set out to heal him. The devil doesn't want you healed. He doesn't want you delivered. And he definitely doesn't want you to walk in the fullness of the promise that God gave you. Satan will always do whatever he can to either intercept your blessing or prevent you from walking in your promised land. When the devil sends a storm, just cling to Jesus in the boat. No boat is going down when Jesus is in it. It can't! After all, He is the One who walks on water, how much more will a boat stay afloat when He's inside? The other thing to note, is the devil can't prevent God's plans from prevailing. No storm of life can keep God's plan and purpose at bay. Satan's storms can cause delays and distractions, but they can't keep God's purpose for your life from happening. When Satan sends a storm he is trying to get you knocked off course. He is trying to defeat and discourage you so that you don't walk in the full purpose of what God intends for your life. His goal is to prevent us from becoming the next Peter or Paul. Don't let his lies prevent God's promises from coming to fruition! There are times when the devil succeeds. There are those who jump out of the boat when life gets too hard, and that's not on God. We are all given a choice, walk with Him or walk against Him. Personally, I have seen how faithful God is to get me through every storm when I lean on Him and trust in His plan. No demon and no devil has ever stopped Him from doing what He said He would do for me. But I had to hold on to the promise even in the midst of the raging storm, and even when it meant I was delayed for a season. Is there a dream or God-given desire in your heart? Have you been attacked or prevented from receiving your promise? Press forward! We're promised hardship in this world, but if we're walking with Jesus than we can say with absolute certainty "that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." (Romans 8:28) ***Something I want to say, if what you face today is sickness or disease that is a storm always created by Satan. The Word is very clear that it is by His stripes that we are healed. Were there times in the Old Testament when God used sickness as discipline? Yes. (Leviticus 26:14-16, Deuteronomy 28:15-68, Psalms 107:17-20, Isaiah 19:22, Hosea 6:1) It was always because of direct disobedience to the law, and part of the curse of the law was disease, destruction, illness and even death. However, we are now free from the law, (Romans 8:2) so anytime we see someone suffering from illness today we know that it came from the realm of darkness. "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."
John 10:10 "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:2 Storms Create Warriors When the storm raged against the boat and the disciples panicked and ran to Jesus, Jesus commented on their lack of faith before He rebuked the wind and waves. I imagine that the storm was terrifying, after all Matthew says, "the boat was covered with the waves." Mark says, "the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling." Luke says, "a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water." But Jesus didn't take a second to comment on how incredible the storm was, instead He commented on what the disciples were focused on. They were focused on the storm, and not on Jesus who was in the boat with them. Jesus knows the will and heart of the Lord, and our God is after great faith. But faith doesn't happen apart of Jesus. It happens because we keep our focus on Him. How do we become men and women of great faith? We weather storms with Jesus. When the storms of life come, and they will, our faith grows every time we get through them. The disciples didn't have great faith coming into the storm, but they surely were amazed when they realized how much power Jesus had to calm the storm. Our God is greater than the weather, and even the elements must bow down to our King and Lord. We were given the same Spirit that lives within Jesus, and we learn to respond like Jesus responded when we face the storms of life. (2 Corinthians 4:13) One day, a storm will come at you and because of the previous storms that the Lord brought you through, you will stand up to it and say, "Peace! Be still!" And the elements of life will obey your voice because it has the same command and authority as Jesus'. We become warriors through rough weather. “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt If we want to become men and women with great faith, then we have to learn to not only weather the storms of life, but to also subdue them. This past spring our family faced great storms from every angle. It seemed like every area of our life was being attacked. We faced a flooding onslaught from the devil just as Isaiah 59:19 says, "When the enemy comes in like a flood." It felt horrible to have multiple areas of our lives under attack. But guess what? That verse ends with, "The Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him." Amen! As I was mediating on this verse in Isaiah the Spirit said to me, "What do floods do?" And then He gave a picture of a raging flood and how debris gets washed away. He showed me in the Spirit that when our lives are flooded to the point that we are engulfed in rushing water from every side, the debris and darkness can't cling to us anymore. It all gets swept away in the flood. There is a purpose when our lives are flooded. The Lord might allow our lives to get completely flooded so that all that remains is our sure foundation in who God is, that He is our Lord and mighty to save. Something else the Holy Spirit said to me when I was reading Isaiah 59: "The Lord can't come in against the enemy until the enemy has you surrounded." Notice that first the enemy comes in, and then the Lord lifts up a standard against him? The standard is a war flag or a national flag for use by military forces when on land. The Lord comes in with His flag of war and declares to Satan, "This one is mine, and I am setting his feet on land. No longer will you flood him." When we see the Lord's war flag, we start to recognize it and how to use it. We start to see how He wages war: through prayer, praise, declaring His goodness and promises. We fast and spend that time in the Word, and with Him. We learn how to renew our minds so that they are filled with the Truth of God's Word and not with the lies of the enemy. We learn how to wage war as well. The Lord plays offense not defense, and we have to learn how to do the same. If you're in a storm today, keep getting up and put one foot in front of the other. There is a purpose in it. David didn't become a hero until he slayed Goliath. Daniel wasn't known for being Daniel in the Lion's Den until after he faced the literal mouths of the lions. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had a face-to-face encounter with Jesus in the furnace. But they had to get into the fire to see the miracle. We don't learn to fight for the Lord until we've faced the battle head on. Learn to fight, learn to weather the storm. And then watch as a warrior in you is born through riding out rough weather. Storms Come When We Decide To Take Enemy Territory Many years ago I watched Behind Enemy Lines. I don't remember liking it. I don't have a taste for violence or war. But that title often comes to my mind when I start coming for enemy territory. There are times when we face storms or attacks because we start playing offense in battle with the Lord, and the devil comes at us head-on as we press into enemy territory. The more we press into the land that Satan occupies, the angrier he will get. We might find ourselves completely behind enemy lines simply without realizing how we got there. One way we end up behind enemy lines is by praying something specific. It could be a brand new prayer, or dream, or idea that the Holy Spirit brings to your heart. You start praying for this dream or blessing to happen in your life and suddenly, out of nowhere, it's like you're under attack. You find yourself running for cover under the shadow of the Lord. But what caused the attack? You came behind enemy lines. This blessing or dream is territory not currently occupied by you, and so the devil is trying to prevent you from living in this land. The enemy is in the land and attacks you when you get near it. In order for the Israelites to occupy their country they had to contend with every single enemy in the land God promised them. The first enemy they fought was the people of Jericho. Jericho means Place Of Fragrance or City Of The Moon, but what I find fascinating are the roots that go into the word Jericho. One root in Jericho is the verb (rawah), which means to be wide or spacious, unrestrained and unconfined. Now, isn't it interesting that the very first city that the Israelite children occupied was a spacious, unconfined place? Their mothers and fathers had been bound by chains in slavery, and their children took back the enemy territory of freedom. This is why the Lord had them come for Jericho first, He was completely freeing them from their confined shackles and restraints. Amen! Abirim Publications says, "the Bible considers freedom the most precious commodity and ultimate objective of all humans. In fact, "it's for freedom that Christ has set us free" (Galatians 5:1)." God had the Israelites battle first for their freedom, teaching them to let go of their slave mentality and to walk into enemy territory with the purpose and knowledge that this land belonged to them. Freedom belonged to them. Another root of Jericho is the noun (rewah) and it means space, or respite, or relief. The Israelites occupying Jericho was a sign of relief from the desert heat. It became their city of respite and space. The Natufian people occupied Jericho (general Canaanites) and they were giants in comparison with God's people. When the Israelites settled into these homes they would have been bigger and grander than anything they would have built themselves. What opulence Jericho's homes would have felt like after living in tents for 40 years! The other roots are the noun (ruah), it means both wind and spirit, the noun (reah) means scent or fragrance, and the verb (riah) means to detect or produce a scent or fragrance. When we come for enemy territory because we have been moved by the Holy Spirit to do so, we emit the fragrance of Jesus. Eventually our enemies will have to fall when we go in to occupy our promised land, because the very scent of Jesus is on us, and it's His Spirit that gave us the dream and desire to go behind enemy lines in the first place. But what is the scent that we emit? It's the saving sacrifice and blood of Jesus! In fact, 2 Corinthians 2:15 says it this way, "For we are the sweet fragrance of Christ [which ascends] to God, [discernible both] among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing." (Amplified Bible) We are a sweet fragrance to the Lord and to other believers. But to the devil and to those who hate us, we smell offensive. I once asked the Lord to show me what we smell like to Him. A few weeks after I prayed that prayer I was reading a book and I moved my head, and when I did I smelled something sweet. It was like fresh dew and honey, mixed with spices. I couldn't quite discern what the spices were, but the smell was very sweet and lovely. A little while later, I was moving around in the kitchen and I smelled it again. Later that night in bed, I rolled over and the scent wafted up yet again. I literally said to my husband, "Do you smell that?" And then suddenly the Lord brought my prayer back to my mind and He said to me, "I smell that." We smell wonderful to our God, because we smell like His Son. So, choose not to be discouraged when Satan tries to hang out for awhile and keep you from your promised land. Pray and contend for what God promised you, and eventually the devil will flee because of the very scent that clings to you. Satan can't hang around men and women of faith who pray bold prayers, who praise the Name of Jesus in the storm, who wage war with God's Word. He can't stand that we smell like the blood of Jesus. The scent of Truth repulses the father of lies. The devil will flee, and in his wake he will leave our freedom, our Jericho, our land flowing with milk and honey. If the Lord has given you a prayer, or the Spirit moved you to pray something specific and you find yourself behind enemy lines, don't stop praying just because the devil attacks. He's playing defense, we're playing offense. I can feel him shaking at the very presence of you there. Move forward, contend for your promise, fight for the land God promised to you. We are promised one thing when we resist the devil, that he will flee from our presence. (James 4:7) Move forward blessed soul! God's got your back. The Storm Creates Discipline, Teaching & Training There are also times when the Lord allows a storm in our life to discipline, teach, and train us. He might allow certain pieces to align so that the storm hits us head on and creates a teachable moment for us. I don't believe He ever causes destruction in our lives, but He might lift a finger off our lives if we have become obstinate or disobedient. There are also times when His hand of grace will be completely removed. I believe this only happens when we choose to walk away from Him. When we do that, we forfeit His covering, goodness and protection over our lives. But there are other times when it seems as though He lifts a finger, and suddenly a storm, or multiple, are allowed in. When that happens, the first question isn't "Why me?" But should be, "What do I need to learn Holy Spirit? Reveal it to me and quickly, that I may learn the lesson and walk in freedom." There are also wilderness seasons that the Lord might bring us into that feels like a storm, but is in fact a desert. As I was in the middle of typing that out, the Holy Spirit dropped a word of knowledge to me about the desert. He said to me, "the desert makes you thirsty." Oh! How I love to hear His voice. The Lord might bring us into a wilderness season for a time so that we learn to drink only from Him. It could be that our source is something not of the Lord, and He needs to reset our minds and our hearts to depend on Him for all things. If we are clinging to a title for our worth (hard-worker, mother, father, friend, wealthy, independent, victim, poor, illness-stricken, advisor or counselor, health, success(ful), smart or knowledgeable, fill in the blank) than the Lord will remove that idol in our desert season so that we see just how worthless that title was. The desert will cause us to thirst only for Him, and it teaches us how to drink only from Him as our living water. Not every storm that Satan sends at us gets through to us. I think there are far more attacks that the Lord prevents from ever getting to us than we can ever comprehend. The Lord is careful about what we face in this life, because His ultimate desire is for our freedom. If we are bound in chains, then it's likely the storm we face is the very thing that reveals where we are in bondage. Allow God to teach and train you, discipline you and set you free from the chains of slavery. At the end of this storm is your freedom! When The People Around Us Face Storms Something that is tough but also common, is when we are in close contact with someone who faces a storm that impacts us. When someone we love faces an illness, or our spouse loses their job, we will be directly or indirectly impacted by that storm. Paul experienced this firsthand in Acts 27-28. Paul was a prisoner on a ship headed to Rome to be tried for his crimes (spreading the gospel), and he warned the captain and crew that they would face a storm if they set sail. There are times when the Holy Spirit will warn us of something up ahead, and we can share that with others who will be impacted. In the case of Paul, no one heeded his warning and they all ended up ship-wrecked on the island of Malta. Paul had to go through the storm because others were hard-hearted. But the Lord used this opportunity for His good. Not only did God protect Paul and keep him safe, but He gave Paul the opportunity to preach and minister to the people on Malta. The crew and captain were also affected and heard him preach. Many people were saved because of this one storm that affected their ship. While the devil meant to harm Paul and the entire crew, God used it to save many men and women and bring them into the heavenly realms. Something else happens when we watch someone we know weather a storm - we gain confidence in our own ability to get through it too. When I was 12 my mom had a nervous breakdown. It caused her to go on a year-long journey with the Lord, believing and praying and praising Him through her storm. We were all impacted by her experience. It was during this process that the Lord taught her how to praise Him while the waters raged, and I began to see the impact of praising and worshipping the Lord during our trials. At the end of this year she experienced a supernatural healing in her brain. It was tremendous. It was not only tremendous for her, it taught me that when we stick with Jesus, when we ride out the storm with Him, we will experience a miracle. Not only will it be miraculous, but it will forever change and shape our walk with Him. Keep Going No matter what storm you face, the only way to end it is to get through it. Don't get out of the boat, and don't quit fighting. If you abandon ship you will never receive a supernatural experience that your soul longs to experience. There are miracles on the other side of your hurricane. I know, for I have tasted glorious moments before, and I trust that every storm I face now has me one step closer to more glory. "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord." 2 Corinthians 3:18 With Joy, Jessica